AI arrived before many of us even knew what these initials stand for. We see frightening statistics every day about the number of jobs that are going to be eliminated by this new technology.
The last time I was in Las Vegas, Nevada a robot in a bar mixed my Mai Tai, and it wasn't half bad. I can envision the day soon when a robot wheels into the doctor's examination room exclaiming, “Hi I am Lex, your virtual nurse. What seems to be bothering you today? Now I am going to take your temperature and blood pressure.” Sorry for the nurse who lost her job to Lex,
So what about a virtual attorney? No way—at least not in my area of practice federal criminal law, particularly border busts and narcotic cases. Every case is different, and every person is different. The attorney needs to build rapport with the client and be able to analyze the case in a nuanced way that a machine is not capable of doing. Was the client afraid or coerced when they carried drugs? Was this the first time they had been a drug courier, bringing methamphetamine, fentanyl, or heroin across the border? Is the client a “blind mule,” who knew nothing about the presence of the drugs?
And what about the very important negotiations with the United States Attorney's Office? While a machine may be capable of synthesizing facts and information, AI will not win over a tough prosecutor to reduce or drop charges.
The only part of federal criminal law that might lend itself to AI is the judge's calculation of a sentencing range. Federal criminal law, specifically section 3553 provides that a sentence should be “sufficient but not greater than necessary” to effectuate the penal goals. Well, maybe some smart programmer will find a way to input all the data necessary to calculate a fair sentence into a machine, and boom out comes the recommended sentence. But again, AI is not capable of measuring genuine remorse, the impact of a crime on the victims, and the harm caused to society. So I think that most judges who preside over criminal cases, will not be out a job either.
There may be a future in AI conducting legal research and perhaps even drafting some legal pleadings, but the human element of criminal law is too complex to reduce to algorithms and formulas.
What would be interesting is if machines start breaking the law, and that is quite possible. But behind that bank robbery by that robot, there will always be a human accountable for the programming and the execution of the crime.
Maybe time will prove me wrong. But, I do not feel my job security slipping away...at least not yet.
(This blog was written 100% without the use of AI. Only a word processor was used, and my human brain–watch for the typos!)